Skating: Figgins prepares for personal milestone on ice

Morgan Figgins works on her moves at the Dunedin Ice stadium. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Morgan Figgins works on her moves at the Dunedin Ice stadium. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Morgan Figgins will achieve a significant milestone for New Zealand figure skating when she competes at the world championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, later this month.

She will be the first New Zealand female skater to compete at a world championships.

Figgins (15) will be joined by Aucklander Tristan Thode, who will be competing in the men's event. He finished 14th in the Four Continents championships in South Korea last month.

It will be his second time at a world championships. He finished 18th in the qualifying round two years ago.

The world championships were last held in Scandinavia in 1976.

Figgins finished twenty seventh at the Four Continents event in Korea last month to qualify for the world championships.

There will be a capacity crowd of 12,000 watching the world championships.

But this should not daunt Figgins, who has vast experience at international level in junior events.

She finished 33rd in a 52-strong field at the junior world figure skating championships in Germany last year.

‘‘I'm not feeling nervous,'' Figgins told the Otago Daily Times yesterday. ‘‘It is a huge opportunity for me. It will be an amazing experience to be among the best in the world.''

At the Four Continents event, Figgins was the first South Island women's skater to compete in a major senior international event.

She learned valuable lessons from that experience.

‘‘It was good to be among Olympic skaters and watch how they prepared for the event,'' Figgins said.

She was also able to come to grips with the new scoring system in figure skating.

‘‘It used to be the judges decision, but there are now points awarded for each segment of a routine,'' Figgins said.

‘‘It is a much fairer system.''

Coach Fanis Shakircianau, from Belarus, looks upon the world championships as a stepping stone for Figgins on her way to qualify for the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010.

‘‘Morgan has improved her speed and flexibility, and has developed her choreography,'' the coach said.

‘‘She just needs to improve her stamina to perform at her best in the second phase of the routine when she is tired.''

Shakircianau is not able to travel to the world championships, but arrangements have been made for her to get assistance at practice sessions from Michael Huth, one of Europe's leading coaches.

Huth trains the women's world champion, Carolina Kostner (Italy) and the men's champion Tomas Verner (Czechoslovakia).

The world championships will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, from March 17-23.

New Zealand is linked to Australia for the event.

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